First Principles

In search of the Unified Theory of Conservatism

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Liveblogging the State of the Union

January 27th, 2010 · 22 Comments

Well, no big surprises.  He made the same promises that he made a year ago, and the only difference is that now we can be even more sure he won’t keep any of them.

The big takeaway from me on this was just how unserious this speech was.  He was joking around here and there.  He stuck with bumper sticker sloganeering while deriding it.  He bashed his critics while complaining about partisanship.  He was running against the establishment without understanding the absurd irony of doing so.

He paid rhetorical deference to the rising rightward shift in this country, but the nuggets of policy that snuck through are still firmly and solidly left wing.  It’s as if he still believes that if only he can fool the American people into swallowing his bitter pill with a sweet coating of Conservatism, that they’ve eventually come around once they’re nice and dependent of the government.

In a hard and anxious time, I think we wanted and needed a businesslike CEO report rather than a stump speech which could have been lifted nearly verbatim from any appearance he ever made in 2008.  And once this is fact checked and torn apart in the coming days, I think this speech will draw far more fire than it will put out.


7:21: “I don’t quit.”  This ending fell very flat.

7:19: His anecdotes always come in threes.  It’s very high school speech class.  How did this guy get the reputation for golden speechifying?

7:18: “I never said change would be easy!”  You also never said what it WAS, either.  Every time Obama talks about the pettiness of our politics, he highlights his own.  If he actually believed any of this whatsoever, he’d have fired Robert Gibbs in the first 10 minutes of his administration.

7:17: Our problems are the fault of Fox News commentators!!!

7:16: “Losing faith in our biggest institutions… Each time a CEO rewards himself for failure.”  I wonder if he knows he’s talking about himself here?

7:15: Wow – he’s going all Tancredo on immigration, too.  At first.  But

7:14: Repeal DADT for the military.  Good.

7:13: “Once again prosecuting civil rights violations.”  Because that racist Bush never did that?  That’s just offensive, and false.

7:13: “American must always stand on the side of freedom and human dignity.”  Start at home, sir.  I’m glad we’re helping Haiti, but this is meaningless tripe.

7:12: Fighting climate change will protect us from bio-weapons?  Wha?!?  This is a bizarrely jumbled part of the speech.

7:10: “Iran is more isolated.”  “Growing consequences.”  Problem is that Obama has a credibility deficit with the Mullahs, too.

7:09: Quoting Reagan.  AND he’s wearing a red tie!  Once again – Republicans win when they’re conservative and proud of it.  And so do Democrats.

7:07: “Support the troops!”  That’s all great.  But you gave the mission they’re currently engaged in awfully short shrift.  If you want their respect, be serious about making sure all the sacrifices you’re lauding actually count for something.

7:06: “I promised I would end this war, and that’s what I’m doing.”  That was Bush’s plan, you’re just following him.  Can you at least give him credit for inheriting THAT?

7:05: Nope, guess not.

7:05: “Renewed our focus on terrorists.”  Will he mention Major Hasan, that uneducated poverty stricken guy who had no choice but extremism?

7:04: “I’m not interested in re-litigating the past.  But every problem I have is Bush’s fault.”

7:02: Republicans aren’t blocking things for the sake of it.  They’re blocking bad legislation.  Frightfully bad.  But he’s right that now they’ve got some responsibility.

7:00: Here’s an attack on partisanship again.  “We can’t wage a perpetual campaign.”  Then why in the hell are you doing it?  “I’m speaking to both parties now.”  OK, Dad.  This is some bold crap coming from a guy who supported filibustering Bush judicial candidates.  This is such a disingenuous whine that I kind of want to have another beer.

7:00: “Earmark reform.”  “Transparency.”  Maybe there will be a memorable phrase from this speech – “Deficit of Trust.”

6:58: “Time to put strict limits on what lobbyists can give to politicians.”  Stupid 1st Amendment…  And I know McCain is old, bit I’m pretty sure McCain-Feingold does NOT represent a “century of law.”

6:57: “We face a deficit of trust.”  Could that be because you’ve failed to deliver on almost every promise you’ve ever made, including many of the ones you’ve recycled tonight from the campaign?

6:56: “If we don’t take meaningful steps to rein in our debt…”  Again – if you actually believed this, why didn’t you take those steps years and years ago?

6:54: “Congress won’t act, so I will just pass a law myself.”  Not OK.  There’s a reason the Constitution is specific about money bills originating in Article I.

6:53: “Line by line through the budget.”  $20 billion in savings.  First of all, you promised to go line-by-line over a year ago.  And you aren’t paying for your spending with $20 billion in savings!!!!  Does he not know the difference between a “b” and a “t”?

6:52: Obama spending cuts = bailing out the Titanic with a thimble.  I would love it if he actually froze spending for 3 years, but it’s just not going to happen.

6:50: More blaming Bush again for the deficits.  “Before I walked in the door.”  Hey – no one twisted your arm.  And you had 4 years in Congress to help whittle those budgets.  And by the way – see my chart at the top of my blog – “You lie!”

6:49: Again – which Obama economic prediction has ever come true?  Why should be believe him now about HC reducing the deficit?

6:48: I’d like to take a look at it, but Pelosi and Reid won’t show it to anyone.  And we DO have better approaches.  You’re just not interested in tort reform, insurance across state lines, etc.

6:46: He takes the blame for not explaining more clearly.  Ugh!  We’re just too stupid, that’s all.  The problem for Obama is not that his plans aren’t clear, it’s that they are.

6:46: It takes a lot of chutzpah to quote that CBO report, which is rife with shell games.

6:45: A government plan doesn’t compete in a fair market, it takes it over because it doesn’t have the same costs or incentives.  Then it turns into a monopoly, with all the customer service incentives THAT provides.

6:44: “Let’s clear some things up.”  Please stop with the condescension.  Please.  And now he’s arguing by anecdote, which is just absurd.

6:43: “Step up re-financing.  And health insurance reform.”  Most nonsensical segue award.

6:42: All debt will be forgiven if they work for the government, or if they fail to pay for 20 years?  Why in the hell would anyone make that loan?  That’s not going to lower the deficit, nor will it make education more valuable.  It will make it LESS valuable, just like when CA disasterously tried to let everyone got to college for free.

6:41: Education.  LOTS of bromides here, and a total ignoring of the federal/state division in the Constitution here.  Has education gotten better since the 70s when the DoE was formed?  Why do we pay for it then?

6:40: “Trading partners play by the rules.”  How are you going to force that?  China thinks you’re a joke.  You wouldn’t use military power, and you show no stomach for any other meaningful sanctions.  President Hu is laughing his tail off right now.

6:38: Export more.  Double them.  OK – how are you going to do that?  Will the government buy more industries?  Oh – we’re going to launch an initiative. Well, those ALWAYS solve everything.

6:37: “Overwhelming evidence of climate change.”  Laughter.  Seriously – this is going to look very foolish in a few years.

6:35: Wow – nuclear!  That’s actually very awesome, if he’s serious.  But then he brings in Cap and Trade, although tellingly not by name.

6:34: There is a place for government research grants.  But if you really want to encourage entrepeneurship, get rid of the regulations and costs of starting up businesses.  That includes, BTW, fines for not providing health insurance to employers and forcing unionization.

6:33: “I’m not interested in punishing banks.”  Then why are you doing it?  His reforms always sound so benign, because they’re so vague.  What is “getting it right?”  What does that mean?  I don’t think he has any idea.

6:33: “I do not accept second place for the United States of America.”  It’s about time he got on the American Exceptionalism train.  Again, Obama understands that Conservatism sells, and liberalism doesn’t.

6:32: “How long should be put our future on hold?”  It depends on the proposed future…  It’s OK to stop when you’re walking in the wrong direction.

6:31: Obama promised – PROMISED – that if we passed the stimulus, unemployment wouldn’t get past 8%.  Why in the hell should be believe a damn thing he predicts about any of his “jobs bills” now?

6:30: Isn’t it amazing that Obama goes to the font of Conservatism whenever his popularity on economic issues wanes?  It’s too bad he won’t govern this way.

6:29: Breaking ground on a government funded railroad in Florida.  Because the US Government has shown itself so adept at running railroads in the past.

6:26: Obama the Conservative.  Business is the key!  Go private sector!  $30 Billion to “give” to small businesses instead of those evil BIG businesses.  No spreading the wealth around here.  If a tax cut will help a small business, it’ll help a big one, too.  Let’s do that equally.

6:25: “Jobs must be our number one focus in 2010.”  OK.  What took you so long?  Just remember that government jobs are net LOSSES to the economy.

6:23: His talking about the jobs saved is such garbage.  Are they the ones in the phantom congressional districts?  And if there was really an economist on the right who believed this, Obama would have named him.

6:20: “We cut taxes.”  And then you raised a ton others.  And they’re all temporary.  “We haven’t raised income taxes by a single dime.”  But you didn’t promise income taxes, you promised ANY taxes.  And this is before you let Bush’s tax cuts expire.

6:19: “I proposed a fee on the biggest bank.”  A “fee.”  Nice.  Good bye, Dow 10,000.  And BTW, many of those banks DIDN’T ask for those bailouts – they were forced to take them.

6:18: “We all hated the bank bailout.”  So why did you vote for it?  WHY did you hate it?  Unemployment might have been double what it is today?  At least he gave Bush credit for that “saving.”

6:17: “I’m hopeful.”  That’s the applause line?  Eesh.  “It’s time the American people get a Government that matches their decency.”  You can start by putting HC deliberations on C-SPAN and not tollerating bribes for votes, Mr. President.

6:16: Now All Bad Things are the fault of partisanship, which he of course had NOTHING to do with.  What garbage.  There will be no taking of responsibility on the part of the President tonight.

6:15: “Change has not come fast enough.”  Uh, oh.  So the problem is that the Democrats haven’t done enough?  He learned nothing from Massachusetts.

6:13: Man – not five minutes into his speech, and he’s still giving the same old “I inherited Bush’s problems, which would have been worse without my saving it” trope.

6:12: Is he really comparing the apparent imminent failure of his health care bill to Bull Run?  Lord.

6:11: He starts by quoting the Constitution.  Glad to know he’s bothered to read some of it.

6:10: Pretty tepid applause.  “Predicted to be pretty long” says the commentator.  Not good for Obama if it is.

6:09: Long enough for Sarah Palin to chime in.  It will be interesting to hear her take after the fact.  She looks like she’s having a lot more fun in Wasilla than all those folks in DC are.  But then, as the Dems are learning, it’s always easier to sit back and toss barbs without having the responsibility.  I bet she appreciates the break.

6:06: Good – he didn’t start too late.  I’ve always considered that very rude.  Of course, we’ll see how long the glad handing takes…

6:05: Prediction – there will be lots of forgettable and not particularly accurate rhetoric, and very little substance.  A bolder prediction – the sun will rise in the east tomorrow morning.

5:59: They’re already talking about how conspicuous the lack of health care talk will be, and how he needs to pivot.  I’m not holding my breath for any “The era of Big Government is over!” kind of talk.

5:57: PBR it is.  Seems appropriate, given the ’70s feel of the Obama administration.

5:55: Hmmm…  even the run up is dull.  I think I’m going to have a beer or three.

5:50: Who would have thought that only a year into Obama’s term, the talking heads would be talking about what a boring speaker he is.  And Nancy Pelosi looks stressed out and worried.

Haven’t done this in awhile – I hope I can keep the typing speed up!

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